Sri Lanka sends more supplies to Jaffna

Chandi Dharmaratne

Sept 2, 2006 (AFP) – A second cargo ship was loaded here Saturday with supplies for desperate residents of Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna peninsula, where the navy said it killed 80 Tamil rebels in a fierce six-hour sea battle. The vessel containing food, drugs and other essential goods was slated to leave Sunday on a two-day journey to reach Jaffna’s main port of Kankesanthurai, military officials said.

The first cargo ship was sent there last week following the ending of the two-week siege imposed by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Plans for the vessel’s dispatch came as aid agencies pressed for better access to conflict-affected areas to distribute relief supplies among the needy population.

The main road access to Jaffna is through rebel-held territory, and heavy fighting along the de facto front line cut off the peninsula, which is home to 350,000 civilians and some 40,000 troops.

The fighting effectively cut off the main air bridge to Jaffna, with the guerrilla artillery hitting the only runway.

Rebel shells also hit the northeastern port of Trincomalee, the starting point for cargo to Jaffna.

“We’re already operating military planes to Jaffna and civilian airlines have been told